Smit’s core had grown significantly in the last couple of days, increasing his size by a good thirty percent. He could feel himself approach the second breakthrough. It was close enough that he could taste it, figuratively speaking. Soon he would cross over the threshold, and then he would be able to grow his dungeon, and perhaps more importantly, he would be able to increase his abilities.
However, now he had other things to contend with too. According to his scouting mice, the adventurers had come back and this time, they had brought company. Small vanguard of carpenters had accompanied them, and apparently, they were all getting to work right away. Led by two master level carpenters, the group had recruited several able-bodied men from the village to gather lumber, and had proceeded to create a frenzy of activity. Within a week, the ground work for the adventurers guild had been completed and the inn had been completed, and they had even begun to flesh it out.
Smit was now truly racing the clock, as he knew that once the adventurers truly began to explore his dungeon, the amount of time he would have for cultivating would decrease significantly. More likely than not, he would have to start relying on his abilities to syphon energy and mana from his “guests” passively in order to gather the necessary resources to cultivate. However, as cultivation required one to gather and concentrate energy, and appropriate the energies as part of oneself, he suspected that relying completely on that system would cause his growth rate to drop significantly.
Just as he thought of this, he sensed a presence rush towards his dungeon, moving as fast as its tiny legs would allow. Naturally, this was one of his dungeon mice. Unfortunately, he did not have the ability to see through the eyes of his dungeon mice remotely from a distance. However, he could feel their general location, and the accuracy of his ability to locate them increased the closer they got to his dungeon.
He paid no mind to the little thing though, opting for letting the mice race towards his dungeon core on its own as he continued to work on his cultivation. Thanks to the alterations that smit had managed to give his mice, the little thing was significantly faster than a normal mouse, and it only took it about twenty thirty minutes to reach his core.
Looking over to his small creation as it raced into the room and came to an abrupt stop before him, Smit turned his attention to the small rodent. He reached out with his mind, and made a link between his own mind and the one of the mouse, tapping into his memories.
The thing with dungeon mice, despite the fact that he had improved them, was that they had a limited memory span. Sure, given time they would be able to learn certain simple things, but to be able to recall more than a day’s worth of stuff after only seeing it once was virtually impossible for their tiny brains. Or perhaps they could do it, but Smit would have had to spend a long time rooting through their minds, trying to piece it all together. Hence, why smit had the mice report to him frequently.
As soon as the mind link with the mice had been established, Smit began to sort through its memories lazily, still focusing upon gathering the energies necessary for cultivation. That came to an end abruptly however, as Smit stumbles upon a particular memory from his little spy.
“Damnation.” Smit huffs as his concentration gets broken. He quickly calculates the speed at which the adventurers should be moving, reaching a rough estimate. “Pala, Echo, to me! I need to discuss something with you.”
He didn’t even need to wait for a response, he could feel his creations rush towards him, the seriousness in his voice demanding their urgency to meet him. Within minutes they reached him, the first to arrive being Pala despite the distance he had to cover being greater than that of Echo. It was to be expected however, considering Echo still was not on par with organic beings when it came to movement, despite the large strides she was making towards that goal. At this point, Smit was confident enough to say that Echo could probably eat with utensils if she had any need to eat but, it would not be looking refined by any stretch of the imagination.
“Father!” Pala spoke out loudly as he skidded to a stop, his clawed feet finding purchase upon the rocky ground. “I heard your call father, I came as quick as I could.”
“Me as well father!” Echo calls out from behind as she enters the room, trying to stop her forward momentum as she headed straight for Pala. She stumbled a bit in the process, but deadened most of her momentum before Pala reached out to help her stop.
“Oof!” Pala grunted, stopping the moving Echo. “I forget sometimes that your body is entirely made of dense stone. You are heavier than you look.”
Echo huffed at the comment, but thanked him for his assistance.
“Right.” Smit said, ignoring the brief exchange just now, bulldozing ahead. “I have news. Urgent news.”
Smit said sternly as he began to talk to his captive audience. “The adventurers are back, as you all know, and they have started to expand the settlement that is closest to us. That in itself is fine, but the problem lies in the readiness factor. While we have advanced quite far in our preparations as opposed to our previous lay out, we are yet to be defensible enough.”
He took a pause to gather his thoughts, letting his mind organize the information he wanted to related to them properly before opening his mouth again. “As you can imagine, the completion of the second floor is a huge asset for us, but the new species at the pond hasn’t matured enough. As a result I would like to ensure it isn’t destroyed yet. We retrieved a young specimen, and I cannot recreate it as a full grown adult if it dies. I would have to start from scratch, again from a young thing since its simply so… different. Unique even. I need that pond room well protected. Pala, it will be your job to secure that room. You and your fighters may train but stay in fighting condition.”
If Smit had a beard, he would be stroking it right now as he contemplated his next course of action. “Echo, I need you on protective duty too. If needed, you will act as my mouth piece to the adventurers. I would rather avoid that if possible, as it would cause complications. But it is an option we have to consider. We have perhaps a day and a half to prepare for their arrival. I want everything ready for their arrival.”
“By your will father!” Pala is the first to respond, sensing that Smit’s speech has come to an end. Like an arrow set loose from an archer’s bow, Pala dashed out of the room, speeding towards his brethren in a rush to follow through with his new orders.
“Echo, I will need you to do some basic practice with your halberd. You are not at a level where you can fight with it, but if you can manage to carry it around at least naturally, it will do for a good show of intimidation.”
“As you order, father.” Echo replied, nodding her head as she moved to retrieve her weapon. Smit for his part, had a look around his room. The entire room was covered with all sorts of armour, weapons, and artifacts he had crafted. Of course, his most valuable stuff was stored in his dimensional ring, but that was beside the point. The fact that anyone would be able to try to take any of his creations without even earning them was rather insulting. A finely crafted sword would not display its true capabilities in the hands of an amateur.
If there was something that Smit could not stand, were his creations going to people that were not worthy of them. The last adventurers were decently capable, and had taken three of his spears, which to be fair, they had earned by combat. Still, the trial felt a little too… simple for his taste.
Well, at least with two floors I can start setting up a more proper trial now. He thought to himself. After all, he had to provide some sort of reward to divert people from aiming at his core. If the people saw him as a resource that was more useful alive than dead, the risk towards his own well-being would be reduced.
That said, for now the spears that the kobold held would have to do as a reward if they got to the second-floor room.
Pushing these thoughts away from his mind for now, Smit focused on a more pressing matter: The fighting frenzy was still active. A quick scan through his floors revealed a handful of creatures had transcended into a previously discovered evolution, while a few more were ready to be evolved by his hand. He would have to look into evolving those few that would be able to take it a step higher.
From the first tier evolved species, some of the insects, snakes and dungeon rats had gathered enough energy to evolve. The wolves were getting close, but they were not there yet. The bears were even further behind.
Interestingly enough, some of his plants were ready to evolve too.
He looked at the first patch of moss he had set up at the entrance, and he discovered that it had gathered significant amounts energy, probably since every dying animal brought by the kobold was killed there so that Smit could absorb them. However, in the time frame that it had taken Smit to absorb the creatures, blood had been spilled constantly upon that moss. Apparently, it had unlocked certain secret conditions for it, as it now gave Smit the option to evolve this moss into “Blood Moss.”
|“Evolution Available: Blood Moss. Blood Moss is a rare ingredient that can help replenish blood when drank as a tea, or help stop blood loss when turned into a paste with other ingredients.”|
It sounded like a fairly valuable thing to have around, so Smit immediately evolved his little patch of moss into Blood moss, and absorbed the knowledge of how to create it greedily.
He quickly left the little patch of blood moss at the entrance as a little gift for the first adventurers to come in, and proceeded to place a few more patches of blood moss deeper in the dungeon, to act as an incentive for adventurers. With any luck, this small reward would encourage quests for the collection of blood moss, which would in turn increase the value of the dungeon in the eyes of the public. Of course, this meant more adventurers visiting him, but it also meant he could test the mettle of more people.
Of course, this meant that blood moss could not be abundant in his dungeon, or at least, not yet. If he created too much of one valuable resource, there wouldn’t be any doubt that that he would have hordes of people trying to acquire it. In his current state, though his dungeon was quite advanced for its age, he was aware that it would not be able to survive large, consecutive assaults from adventurers. He simply wouldn’t have the resources to constantly create enough creatures to keep up with a large number of adventurers and consecutive assaults. That would change in time, but for now, he had to play it safe.
Keeping that in mind, his fastest method of strengthening himself and fortifying his dungeon was the evolution of his creatures. While a larger dungeon bough him more maneuverability and resources, ultimately it was his traps and creatures who had to stop intruders from waltzing through his dungeon.
Thus he began to examine his creations. Currently he had “original” species, such as mice, simple snakes, and wolves, for instance. Then some of those had already undergone their first evolution, creating things such as dungeon rats and green snakes. First tier evolutions were a significant step up from their previous forms, but hardly a dramatic improvement. In terms of strength, it would be like comparing an eight-year-old child to the same child when he was eleven years old. It was considerable growth, but not overly impressive.
Smit hoped that these next evolutions would prove at least as useful as the last, and ideally, even more so.
Smit began with his insects. The spiders which had evolved mild hallucinogenic properties had improved significantly, their power overflowing past what was required for a normal evolution. Hence, Smit had a little extra to play around and enhance them. To begin with, he made their main body the size of a human male’s fist. Rather a large body that was made easily twice larger by the long legs that carried it. It was a large enough spider to induce fear, but not large enough to be easily cut down. Most of his focus went on their poison. Rather than making their poison more lethal, he redirected the evolution to make it so that the illusions created by the bite of the spider were more intense. Anyone with a weak constitution would start to feel the room waver and sway, and perhaps see things that were not truly there.
It was not a very lethal poison on its own, but the fact that one bite could affect your perception of space and reality for any extended period of time would be a serious boon for him. It could easily tip the balances in his favour in the long run, especially if he was facing a large armed force. A couple of confused and scared enemies amongst the ranks of the enemy could cause chaos in an organized formation.
He named this spiders Mirage Spiders.
Then he moved on to his two headed spider. The poor thing finally had gathered enough strength to evolve, as it oddly required almost twice as much energy as the original spiders. He looked at the spider carefully, noting that it had several scars along its chitin body. By the looks of things, the spider had had a hard time surviving but it had managed to progress along well. It was one of his earliest creations, and also one of his earliest experiments.
He looked at it carefully for a moment, examining it before accepting the evolution. As his spider’s poison was weak, he decided to focus instead on making her suited for close combat. He looked over his creature and increased her size dramatically, making her the size of a large domesticated cat. Her armour was tougher now too, thicker, able to resist more intense attacks, and the mandibles on both heads were made significantly stronger and larger too. Lastly, he made sure that her joints were a little more flexible, making her movements stealthier. He hoped to make this spider a good assassin in the future.
He placed his two headed spider in the second floor, amongst the pillars where it could hide with its black armour and perhaps pick off the remnants of some unexperienced adventurer group. With any luck, it would help his spider get some experience. He would be curious to see how effective his two-headed minion would be in the future.
He placed his spider carefully, instructing it to use the dark pillars to its advantage, and then he moved on to the next creature. The next in line to obtain an evolution were his snakes. In particular, the green snakes had improved enough to obtain an interesting evolution. The most advanced of is green snakes managed to evolve into a green viper.
Green vipers were well known for its paralysis poison, able to paralyse a grown man. The cost for that evolution was surprisingly high, which made smit wonder just how many creatures had his green snake consumed to gather that amount… but on the other hand, it was a significantly better evolution that the standard evolution option “sly green snake” which, in all honesty, seemed to like a normal green snake that was simply better at being sneaky and hiding.
He looked over the wolves, the bears, and a handful of other creatures he had acquired, but those had yet to reach a high enough concentration of energies to evolve. Still, they were making good progress. He made a mental note to the best of those specimens a little boost of energy, hopefully allowing them to escape if needed in the future. He needed them alive if they were to evolve into the best possible versions of themselves.
Humming to himself, Smit observed his current new evolutions, and set them in place. Everything had to be perfect so that he could get more time to advance. He only had a bit further to go for his breakthrough, and he would be damned if he would be interrupted before he could see it through.
With that last thought, Smit retracted his consciousness to his core, and threw himself into cultivating with renewed vigour. He had opted to leave his safety, and the security of the dungeon, in the hands of his creations. Of course, he would still have some faint awareness of his surroundings, but it was the first time he was placing this much faith in the hands of another being.
Then again, if he was going to leave his dungeon and his life on the hands of someone else, he could do a lot worse than leaving them on the hands of his own devout children.
This was it. This was the moment he had been working towards.
Since he had been created, Pala had done as the creator, the Father, had instructed. He had been witness to his miracles, and the wealth of knowledge. Pala had listened and learned, he had trained and hunted under his instruction. Carefully groomed by Smit in a brutal yet oddly controlled form, Pala had catapulted himself forwards in terms of progress. He was far ahead of the rest of his brethren both physically and mentally, seating himself as the right hand of the Father.
And yet, Pala had never received this level of trust before.
Sure, he had been given assignments before. He had been given hunts of several variations, foraging missions, and even defensive missions. But he never had had this level of free reign over such an important task. Sure, father might have had set up a few things, and evolved a few creatures here and there, but ultimately, the finally offensive rested squarely upon his shoulders.
In Pala’s mind, he had been given a precious gift. The trust bestowed upon him by the father was something that he had earned through his accomplishments, something that he had had to work himself to the bone to acquire. It was a symbol of the bond he shared with the father.
And that was precisely the reason that Pala could not help but to grin widely as he gathered his brothers and sisters, his sharp teeth in full display as he organized them in rows and gathered their attention.
“Brothers! Sisters!” His voice boomed out, his tail twitching and jerking excitedly as he talked, easily catching the attention of his audience. “The father has given us a great honor!”
A mutter ran through his brethren, whispers of curiosity ensuing amongst the small crowd, but soon they were silenced as Pala spoke again.
“The father has given us the honor of being his personal guard for the next invasion!”
An excited chatter broke out from the Kobolds, tails thrashing and twitching with excitement at the news. This was a position that had never been bestowed to anyone in the dungeon! It was quite obvious that the prospect of serving the creator directly tugged at the heart strings of the devout kobolds.
“Father saysss that the invasion will occur in less than two days!” Pala continued, barely paying heed to the excitement in the crowd. “We are to guard the pond room, as it is the last room before his own. Prepare yourselves! We must let no one intrude upon the sanctum of the Father.”
A deafening cheer rose from the small crowd of Kobolds, and they broke into a frenzy of motion as they ran to get their weapons.
They would fight for the Father to the last man standing, and woe to the foes that stood before them.
|Species: True Dungeon|
|Name: Smit||Age: 2 months|
|Mana: 97879 MP||Anima: 163|
|Mana Reg.: 215 MP/h||Anima Reg.: 5.12 AP/day|
|Floors: 2||Inhabitants: 63 Species|
|Titles: Creator of Dungeon laws; Creator; Guide of the Bloody Evolution; Legendary Craftsman; Reincarnated One;|
|Abilities: Absorb matter; Alter environment; Bestow Knowledge; Break down components; Craftsmanship; Creation; Digging; Destroy creation; Dungeon Laws; Enhancement; Equivalent exchange; Ether manipulation; Evolution; Interdimensional Storage; Life bestowal; Life-energy harnessing; Mana absorption; Masterful mana manipulation; Modification of creations; Monster Link; Telepathy; Trap building; Transfer dungeon.|
|Resistances: Magic (general); Mind control|